We should expect that every year, women would be more numerous in occupying the highest offices in their countries. However, numbers from February 2018 show that no progress has been made in comparison with 2017. Currently, there are only 20 women holding the office of Head of State or Head of Government, which represents only 6,3% of the total number of international leaders.
Two countries this year combine both female head of state and head of government: the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Heads of State
Currently, 10 women are the highest representatives of their countries. It represents 5,6% of the total number of Heads of State in the world. This number represents a slight decrease in comparison with 2017 when 13 women led their countries. Once again, the continent with the highest number of female Heads of State is Europe (6).
Mauritius – Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, president since 2015 and the first woman to hold the office
Nepal – Bidhya Devi Bhandari, president of Nepal since 2015 and the first woman to hold the office, former Minister of Defence
The Marshall Islands – Hilda Heine, president since 2016 and the first woman to hold the office; previously she served as the Minister of Education and the first person in the Marshall Islands to earn a doctorate degree
Croatia – Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president since 2015, former Croatian Ambassador to the UN and former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs
Estonia – Kersti Kaljulaid, president since 2016, the first woman to hold the office and the youngest president of Estonia
Lithuania – Dalia Grybauskaite, president since 2009, first woman to hold the office and the first President of Lithuania to be re-elected; former European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget and for Education and Culture
Malta – Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, president since 2014, former minister for the Family and Social Solidarity
United Kingdom– Queen Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms since 1952, the longest currently reigning monarch and head of state
Heads of governments
Currently 10 women are prime ministers (against 7 in 2017). These represents 7,3% of the total number of 137 chiefs of governments. Once again, Europe is leading with 5 women as prime ministers.
Namibia – Saara Kuugongelwa, prime minister since 2015, former Minister of Finance
Bangladesh – Sheikh Hasina Wajed, prime minister since 2009 (third term)
Myanmar – Aung San Suu Kyi, State counsellor since 2016 (the position corresponding to that of the prime minister), recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize
New Zealand – Jacinda Ardern, prime minister since 2017 and the leader of the Labour Party. She is the youngest prime minister in the world (37 y.o. when she took the office)
Germany – Angela Merkel, Chancellor since 2005 and leader of Christian Democratic Union, former minister for the Environment and for Women and Youth
Iceland – Katrín Jakobsdóttir, prime minister since 2017 and former minister of Education, Science and Culture and of Nordic Co-operation
Norway – Erna Solberg, prime minister since 2013 and leader of the Conservative Party, former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development
Serbia – Ana Brnabic, prime minister since 2017, former Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government of Serbia, first woman and first openly gay person to hold the office
United Kingdom – Theresa May, prime minister since 2016 and leader of the Conservative Party, former Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities
Peru – Mercedes Aráoz, prime minister and second vice president since 2017, former minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism and minister of Finance.